Author Topic: Who are the British jihadists in Syria?  (Read 451 times)

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Offline EC

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Who are the British jihadists in Syria?
« on: October 15, 2013, 06:27:59 AM »
Via the BBC:

The home secretary and MI5 have warned about the terrorist threat from British residents fighting in Syria. But who are these young men who have gone to fight in another country's war - how did they get there, what are their long term goals and do they pose a threat to UK security?

MI5 says there could be as many as 200 British fighters in Syria. With other Europeans, they make up around 10% of the foreign opposition forces, with most coming from Saudi Arabia, Tunisia and Libya.

The BBC has learned there are a group of 20 young men from the UK who are fighting against forces allied to President Bashar al-Assad near Atma, on the Turkish border.

One of the men, who calls himself Abu Muhadjar, says he had a good upbringing: "I grew up in fairly nice area. I come from a decent family, close-knit family, well educated. Everyone in my family is a university graduate. I'd consider it a middle class family.

"My family do know where I am and what I'm doing. Just like any mother and father, of course they're going to be worried about their son. I'd be lying to say it's not dangerous here and no-one wants to bury their own children."
Continue reading the main story   
Find out more

    Listen to File on 4, The Syrian Connection, on BBC Radio 4 at 20:00 BST on Tuesday 15 October. Or catch it later on the BBC iPlayer.

    File on 4, The Syrian Connection

The BBC has questioned a number of jihadists on the front line through a Muslim journalist in Syria. They would not talk to us directly by phone or Skype because of concerns about their security and we have no independent means of verifying their identity.

Abu Muhadjar would not give much away about his background, but explained why he was there: "There's many reasons made me leave my life and come here. The first is religious reasons - due to the fact that it's upon every single Muslim to protect Muslim lands and blood of Muslims if it's been transgressed upon.

"Second is humanitarian reasons - alongside of my fighting I tend to do aid work as well."

Shiraz Maher of the Centre for the Study of Radicalisation at King's College London, says Syria has become a magnet for young Muslims across the world eager to take part in jihad - a holy war, or struggle to defend Islam.

He says: "At the moment Syria seems to dominate the global jihadist mind, it is the premier location in the world to go and fight jihad today."

More at link. Long but well worth reading. I wonder how many American Jihadis are in Syria. When I was there I heard rumors of some fighting with the rebels in the north west, around Aleppo, but cannot confirm it by direct observation.
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